Tuesday Trippin’ October 1-11

Facing the Death of a Dream Wasn’t Enough

I was still going to write up last week a day late, but this week came along and blew it right out of me. Russ and I had a commitment to each other to complete the project video this weekend. Then my tech guy came along and suggested that I live stream for engagement. I think I like the word “engagement” in my life now about as much as I liked the words “on task” (as in “needs to be”) when my kids were in school. I said “But my budget is complete. What will it cost?”

I didn’t feel great in the first place. There was a week of rain expected, so we got our second shingles shots while the weather wasn’t good for riding, in case it was as bad as the first shot. The first was draining and caused the biggest reaction I’ve ever had to a vaccine. I hoped the second shot would be better. DENIED!

So, with bad weather, a miserable body and the holiday shopping season on the way, I was planning to work on the Etsy store hard and strong. It’s the small side hustle that I dreamed would become a business one day. My conversion rate is usually good when I’m active in the store and I have a five star review average, but that alone isn’t an indicator of profit. My number of listings vary, depending on whether or not sales are coming in fast enough cover listing fees. If you carry 500 listings, it takes $100 net per quarter to cover the listing fees alone. Usually listing a bunch of items will trigger a sale or two, but during the low seasons it may not be a net gain after fees and expenses.

Not being a fan of net losses, I let many listings expire in the off season and build back up for the holiday shopping frenzy. The problem is that the sales aren’t coming this time. I’m a “star seller” with 100 percent scores across all the metrics they use to decide the designation. But, there is a minimum dollar amount and number of sales needed to get/keep the designation and I currently have no sales for October. It is the first time I’ve built the shop up for the holiday season and not triggered sales while building. I’m at a loss, to understand how I can make a future with Etsy. I’ve had to raise prices because shipping and other costs keep going up. I’ve been on the edge of closing for at least 4 years. I need to keep the store open while I promote this video project so that anyone can see that I’m able and willing to please customers, but I’m less certain than I’ve ever been that can justify being on Etsy next year at this time. Like too many other people, I’m there because I love the idea of what Etsy was, and the dream of what it might mean for me if I could make it profitable.

Oh, BTW, Why Don’t You Stream?

It was while I was contemplating the potential death of my Etsy store that my tech guy brought up streaming. Some time back, I was riding alone a lot and I wanted to stream my rides to a single person who’d show the video to the police if anything ever happened to me. It wasn’t feasible then, so it wasn’t on my mind for this, and I felt like it was a little late to be changing things that much. In truth this project will change constantly, even after it’s funded, but this was a change that interfered with my plan to get the project officially out there very quickly. He is probably right though. Engagement. If we can stream, it should improve appeal. He said Facebook was the way to go.

I was physically miserable from the “jab” and still not excited about the disruption in our existing plan when I went west to do a current test stream through areas with low and no signal strength with FB engaged. The weather was questionable and I hadn’t really looked at my tech. I’m a comfortable Luddite… until I’m motivated not to be. Once I wanted to be part of a team attempting a world record length balloon flight. I got my HAM license and learned to send packet location data so that I could participate (we got the record BTW). I use my phone to call, text and photograph. That’s it. The phone doesn’t have games, and until this week, didn’t have social media.

I felt pressure to get on with it though. I was grumbling about putting Facebook on my phone and asking if there wasn’t another way to live stream. I didn’t have good prep or mounting hardware for anything. It started raining at Tara Drummond trailhead, my first choice location, just before I pulled up at the. The scrape of my worn windshield wipers was grating.

I didn’t want to get the phone soaked and I’d driven too far to give up, so I drove out further, where the rain was lighter. At Coot’s Lake the weather was misting and the trail was littered with slippery wet leaves. I had that brain fog that comes with trying to rise to the occasion when you just want to curl up in bed and sleep it off, but I didn’t drive for an hour just to emit greenhouse gases and fight falling asleep on the way home. I needed to accomplish something, so I took the bike off the rack.

Accident Building

In hot air ballooning, I attended several safety seminars. Pilot error is the most common reason for (all) aircraft accidents. An FAA Designated Examiner once taught me that in most accidents, 3 things went wrong before the accident. His advice was to stop and reassess everything after the second thing went wrong. I forgot my brand new shiny helmet with the goggles. I forgot to change shoes. I realized that near the car. I was wary of slipping on the wet leaves, but if I went back for them, I wasn’t sure I’d actually get back on the bike and ride. I left my cheap, rain sprinkled drug store readers trailside to pick them back up on returning. My bike bags were full. I was taking video of the inside of a bike bags so the phone would stay clean and dry. The plan was to compare any streaming gaps to the network signal strength tester I thought I was running in the background. I knew I was in “don’t go there” territory.

I went to and through Brushy Mountain Tunnel describing where there were high rocks or open spaces on either side along the way, then just barely into the edge of the Paulding Forest. I stopped to turn around and check to see if I was still streaming. I was.

I was streaming black screen with terrible audio to my personal profile instead of the private group we set up for the test. I was trying to fix it all without the glasses I left back near the car. This is when and where I decided it’s time for multifocal contacts. I need to just get over it and learn to stick my fingers in my eyes. I turned everything off and started back to the car. I resolved to pick up my glasses, take a deep breath and start again.

I was still riding very carefully because of the slippery leaves and lack of helmet. I passed a group of people with a Doberman. The person who was supposed to be holding the leash wasn’t. I sped up as much as I was comfortable in the wet leaves while the dog’s leash bounced on the pavement. I don’t know whether I was more afraid of the dog or a fall, but I was aware that it could be a double header. The dog got tired of chasing me while I was still upright and I learned first hand that adrenaline will completely wipe out the feeling of side effects from a vaccine.

I picked up my glasses as I neared the car. I rethought my second attempt. I didn’t want to go back toward the Doberman for a second try any more. After the Doberman, I didn’t want to go in the other direction where the St. Bernard that chased me that one time lives. I was cooked. I loaded up and told my peeps I was in the car safe. I thought about going on out to Cedartown and riding even further west, but that’s a long way for someone to drive to rescue me if the day kept on getting worse. I was way past 3 things going wrong. The adrenaline had charged me up, but my brain was spent. I just needed to get a handle on dealing with a delay that’s worthwhile. As I drove home, wide awake, the clouds cleared and the blue sky was glorious. I told myself to just enjoy the view and remember that the leaves on the trail still weren’t dry.

Next Try

I haven’t been happy with the sensitivity level of the glass screen protector my tech guy recommended. Pushing on the glass sometimes makes enough movement to ruin photos. I’ve been really tempted to try a flexible one instead.

Russ came with the following Sunday. We drove to Cedartown and rode west. It’s an iffy signal section of trail that’s really too far out for me to be riding alone. We confirmed that the signal is low in most places and the video quality is poor, but at least we were streaming to the private group this time. While we were out there I ran over a big green walnut with my front tire. The bounce caused my expensive new Galaxy 21 Ultra to dismount and I ran over it with my back tire. I may not like the sensitivity of that hard glass screen protector, but the phone still appears to be fine. I came home and ordered another one.

Screen cap from the end of my feed for Sunday. Russ is watching me check my phone for damage. You can see him through the reflection in my goggles and the haze of my crumpled glass screen protector.
The broken screen saver left a fine powder of dust that I thought was the same kind of micro cracks that accumulated on my old old phone. Russ told me to wipe and the undamaged screen was a relief.

All in all, it was pretty frustrating to have so many obstacles pursuing something that we weren’t excited about doing in the first place.

Until next time, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

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